You did it.
You accomplished a milestone, wether it was receiving your high school diploma, finishing up post-secondary or finally handing in everything to earn that Masters or PhD. You did it. Congratulations!
Now, I know this is probably not what you expected graduating to be like, I know that your first year of University might not exactly be spent in the dorms, away from the comfort of your home. BUT, something cool is happening. Something I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. You see, the world is changing, the world you’re stepping into today is much different than it was when I stepped into it, it’s different than it was a year ago – heck, it’s changed so much in this last month. People are not putting up with the same bullshit they were before, they’re demanding change & I think that’s pretty freaking cool.
I wanted to share with you an excerpt of a letter I received around the same time I graduated. I hope these words resonate with you.
1. You aren’t me: you are much smarter & stronger than I was at your age. I had so much to learn about the way things are in this world, that you just already know. So please don’t think that why working in the arts didn’t work for me will happen to you. I wasn’t where you are at your age.
2. When I talk about wanting to settle down, its good to have in the back of your head, but you’ve got lots of time to get enough experience before you get there, there will be stable opportunities for you by the time your internal voice wants stability and comfort & babies (it’s true) more than adventure…and for sure in the arts whose internal voice always wants adventure
3. Never forget to appreciate. Remember to remind yourself how lucky you are to support yourself doing something you love. So many people in this world never get close to that reality.
4. Never forget to question. Determine your own limits and never let people in power influence you to compromise them, nothing will make you feel worse about yourself than compromising your integrity.
5. Build things rather than tearing down what others have built. There are going to people in the world that do things in ways that make you sick to your tummy. Don’t waste your time trying to change their systems, instead use your time to be part of building the alternative. I guarantee that if it makes you sick to your tummy, there are other people who are sick to their tummy too, and will join you.
6. Be the alternative, instead of the critic. Vent, for sure vent, but don’t waste time hating or judging (even when they are pathetic human beings) you don’t know where people come from or what they’ve had to stomach in their lives, they could be perfectly justified in their choices or they could just never have known any different. Will Smith so wisely says: “Hate in your heart will consume you too”
7. Never forget what it feels like to be the outsider, acceptance is the nicest gift you can give someone.
To all those who have closed a chapter of their lives, about to open another.
I want to encourage you to spread goodness and love wherever it is you go. Spread gratitude, and kindness and hope and leave it for people to pick up on every path you walk. Fight for justice, for equality, fight for the rights every human being on this planet deserves. Keep those who love and support you close, always. Never give up on the dreams that keep you up at night, the ones that have you smiling in the shower, the dream that was put on your heart. It’s there for a reason, it’s there becasue you are capable of making it come true. You owe that to yourself. Always strive for more; more laughter, more hugs, more love, more happiness, more food, more joy. Never settle for less than you deserve – in all areas of life.
Congratulations Class of 2020. Go change the world!